Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder has hailed the leadership qualities of his captain Billy Sharp.
Sharp has started the last three Premier League matches but until then had been used sparingly so far this campaign, making one other start and 12 substitute appearances.
The striker, who celebrated his 34th birthday last week, was pushed down the pecking order by the summer arrivals of Lys Mousset, Oli McBurnie and Callum Robinson, who is now on loan at West Brom, and has had to be patient to get his chance.
Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder has praised club captain Billy Sharp for his leadership
Sharp hasn’t featured much this season but scored the vital equaliser against Bournemouth
Wilder praised the 34-year-old for his leadership qualities despite his lack of playing time
Sharp might have felt aggrieved at such treatment after scoring 87 league goals during the past four seasons to help propel the Blades from League One to the top flight. However, Wilder insists his attitude and temperament has been exemplary throughout.
‘He hasn’t played as much as he would have liked. Off the pitch, he’s been a fantastic leader,’ said the Blades boss.
‘It’s easy when you’re playing and scoring, and Billy has scored so many goals for us, to carry out those leadership duties and when you’re not it’s a little bit more difficult.
Sharp has started in the last three league matches for the Blades despite tough competition
‘When you sign players, or keep people at the club, you’re looking to sign and keep good people as well. You want ambitious players. You want ones who can overcome disappointment and are selfless. You want ones who can face up to challenges.
‘Billy had offers to leave in January but he wanted to stay. It’s been a different type of test, not that I want to put him through a test, but it is, and he showed his reaction. It speaks volumes.’
Sharp was on the score sheet on Sunday as the Blades came from behind to beat Bournemouth 2-1 at Bramall Lane.
The win moved them up to fifth in the Premier League table and to within two points of Chelsea, who occupy the final Champions League spot.